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Melissa Castillo-Garsow

was born Maymie Leona Turpeau De Mena in 1891, to Isabella Regist and Francisco Hiberto De Mena in San Carlos, Nicaragua. She was raised in an upper-middle-class family—her father was the government minister of lands in San Carlos—and was privately educated. De Mena traveled to the United States in 1913–1914 and 1917–1925. She was employed as a clerk-stenographer and teacher before she began her career in Marcus Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) as an interpreter, lecturer, organizer, and journalist. Originally, she joined the Chicago chapter of the UNIA, serving as one of their delegates to the national convention in 1924.

Although in 1925 she was still listed as part of the Chicago UNIA, following her participation at the 1924 convention De Mena was tapped by Garvey to accompany George Emonei Carter and Henrietta Vinton Davis on the SS Goethals when it toured the Caribbean to ...

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Leland Conley Barrows

peripatetic Liberian intellectual and diplomat, pan-African theoretician, and sometime British colonial official in Sierra Leone and Nigeria, was born on 3 August 1832 on St. Thomas in the Danish Virgin Islands to free parents of Igbo or Ewe origin. Thanks to the influence of an American Presbyterian missionary, the Rev. John P. Knox, Blyden decided, while in his teens, to become a Presbyterian minister himself but was thwarted in his efforts to enroll at the Rutgers Theological College because he was black. Thus, again influenced by Knox and the contacts of the latter in the American Colonization Society, he immigrated to Liberia in 1850. Here he would complete secondary education at the Presbyterian Church–sponsored Alexander High School, where he would then become a teacher.

Blyden s perception that his parents his mother a teacher and his father a tailor were of pure Negro African origin his encounters with slavery ...

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David Dabydeen

Scholar, lifelong champion of African rights, and Liberia's first accredited diplomat to the Court of St James, London. Edward Blyden was born in August 1832 in Charlotte‐Amalie, the capital of the island of St Thomas in the Danish West Indies. The third child of free parents—his father was a tailor and his mother a teacher—Blyden enjoyed a tranquil early childhood of personal tuition from his mother, combined with attendance at the local primary school. In 1842 the family moved to Porto Bello in Venezuela, where Blyden's linguistic talents first came to prominence. By the age of 12 he was fluent in Spanish, while at later stages in his life he would also master Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic. On returning to St Thomas two years later, Blyden continued his schooling in the mornings while serving out a five‐year apprenticeship as a tailor in the afternoons.

In 1845 the ...

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Leland Conley Barrows

Ever the peripatetic intellectual, teacher, journalist, philosopher, and diplomat, Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832–1912) managed to be both a powerful exponent of the uniqueness of the Negro-African personality and an inveterate Anglophile.

Blyden was born of free parents on St. Thomas Island in the Danish Virgin Islands on 3 August 1832. Although apprenticed to a tailor, he developed a talent for languages, literature, and oratory. Thanks to the influence of John P. Knox an American Presbyterian minister Blyden decided early on to become a Presbyterian minister himself Blyden s perception that his parents were of pure blooded possibly Igbo or Ewe African origin served as one of the roots of his life long commitment to Negro race pride and the development of a racial ideology evocative of Négritude Blyden s encounters with slavery on St Thomas black poverty in Venezuela and his first encounter with virulent racism ...

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Lisa Clayton Robinson

Edward Wilmot Blyden is considered a pioneer in Pan-Africanist thought, although the term “Pan-Africanism” was not coined until the very end of Blyden's long life and career. Throughout his career as a diplomat, statesman, educator, and one of Liberia's most prominent champions, Blyden encouraged people of African descent around the world to embrace their history and culture, and to return to Africa, their ancestral homeland. His call for “Africa for Africans” represented a vision that was truly ahead of its time, that of a proud, rich, black civilization spread throughout the African continent. Blyden's writings and speeches influenced leaders and philosophers such as Cheikh Anta Diop, Kwame Nkrumah, Marcus Garvey, and C. L. R. James.

Blyden was born in 1832 into a middle-class free black family in Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands Although he was brought up in relative privilege ...

Article

Pedro R. Rivera

and founder of the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement (ANPM) in Harlem, New York City. Cooks was born on 23 June 1913 in the city of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. He was the youngest of four siblings. His parents, James and Alice Cooks, moved from the island of St. Martin to San Pedro during the sugar boom at the turn of the twentieth century that brought thousands of workers from other parts of the Caribbean to the Dominican Republic. James became a successful entrepreneur who also was concerned with helping the workers by maintaining mutual aid societies. Carlos was introduced to political activities as a child. His career in New York as a leader for black racial consciousness started from a local Dominican branch of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which was housed in a family property.

The UNIA was founded by the Jamaican Marcus Garvey who established ...

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Amos J. Beyan

Crummell was born March 1819, the son of Charity Hicks, a freeborn African American woman and a resident of Long Island, New York, and Boston Crummell, an emancipated African from the Temne ethnic group of what became known as Sierra Leone in West Africa. Although the conditions under which he became emancipated have not been documented, it has been maintained that Crummell’s father gained his freedom by escaping his owner when he became an adult in New York. The family thereafter established a small oyster store in the black section of New York. Despite the fact that they had limited means and lacked formal education, Crummell’s parents decided to enroll him in the Mulberry Street School and further employed qualified individuals to tutor him.

Following his basic education Crummell together with his black colleagues Thomas Sidney and Henry Highland Garnet went to Canaan New Hampshire to study at Noyes ...

Article

Jane Poyner

Mixed‐race American sea captain who, as a champion of the abolition movement, journeyed to Britain in 1811 to meet sympathetic friends from the African Institution. Cuffee (also spelt Cuff, Cuffe, Cuffey) was born in Massachusetts to a manumitted slave, Cuffee Slocum, and a Native American, Ruth Moses. A committed Quaker, Cuffee was impassioned about the redemption of Africa: he aligned himself with the Colonization Society of America and the idea of a return to Africa of free African‐Americans. To this end, as a means of cutting off the slave trade at its source, Cuffee made two trips to Sierra Leone (see Sierra Leone settlers). To discuss his views on abolition and colonization with friends from the African Institution, Cuffee sailed to Britain, docking in Liverpool in 1811 Here and in London he met fellow abolitionists including the Duke of Gloucester who was president of the African ...

Article

Jonathan Morley

Journalist and activist born to wealthy parents, against whom she rebelled. Cunard became a well‐known figure in the London modernist movement, and throughout the busiest period in her career, the 1930s, was a controversial advocate of black emancipation in the United States and Africa.

At 855 pages long, weighing nearly 8 pounds, with 150 contributors, the NEGRO anthology of 1934 was Cunard's most ambitious publication: a collection of essays, polemics, and poetry from France, Britain, and America designed to highlight the vibrancy of the black world and to lobby for black freedom. Writers of interest include the future African presidents Jomo Kenyatta and Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Pan‐Africanists George Padmore and W. E. B. DuBois, the black modernist novelist Zora Neale Hurston, and the poets Nicolás Guillen, Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Countee Cullen, Alain Locke, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound who ...

Article

The Editors

American journalist, abolitionist, and Pan-Africanist, was born a free American in Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia), to Pati Peace, a free seamstress whose parents were of royal West African heritage, and Samuel Delany, an enslaved carpenter, on 6 May 1812. When attempts were made to enslave Martin and a sibling, Pati carried them 20 miles (32 kilometers) to the Winchester courthouse to preserve their freedom. They soon learned to read and write using The New York Primer and Spelling Book.

Defying a Virginia law, Delany wrote passes to enslaved blacks. Upon being discovered, and fearing reprisals, Pati took them to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; they were joined by their father after buying his freedom a year later. The young Delany continued learning but occasionally left school to work to support himself. He continued his schooling from 1823 to 1831 in the tightly knit black community of Kernstown outside ...

Article

David Dabydeen

African‐American physician, abolitionist, soldier, and black nationalist who fought for the emancipation and self‐reliance of Blacks. Delany was born in Charleston, Virginia, to a free mother and a slave father. Due to his mother's free status, he was deemed free as well. All his life Delany insisted on the need for black people to recognize and absorb their African heritage and culture. As such, he anticipated the rise of Pan‐Africanism. He rejected notions about the inferiority of Blacks, promoting instead the values of self‐sufficiency and entrepreneurial effort. He advocated emigration rather than subjection to racial harassment at home. In July 1859 he sailed to West Africa and signed a treaty with the King of Nigeria on 27 December 1859 that permitted Blacks linked with Delany to settle in vacant tribal lands. In 1860 he arrived in Britain seeking financial assistance for his project In ...

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David Dabydeen

Jamaican‐born champion of black solidarity and founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) who lectured and later lived in Britain. Garvey was born on 17 August 1887 in St Ann's Bay, Jamaica. His father was a mason and a deacon of the Methodist Church, and his mother was a pious Christian who devoted much of her time to the young Garvey. He attended infant and subsequently elementary school at St Ann's Bay Methodist school, where he was deemed a bright and astute student. When he was 14 he became a printer's apprentice under his godfather and five years later worked at the government's printing office in Kingston. His experience in the field of printing would later aid the establishment and development of his numerous newspapers and journals.

Garvey was passionate about racial and class issues from a young age A possible catalyst for his belief in the importance ...

Article

Martha King

Photographs exist of Marcus Moziah Garvey in the full regal uniform that he wore during marches and rallies. These photographs are still sold on the streets of Harlem, where the UNIA had its headquarters in the years during and after World War I. Garvey, called a “black Moses” during his lifetime, created the largest African American organization, with hundreds of chapters across the world at its height. While Garvey is predominantly remembered as a “Back to Africa” proponent, it is clear that the scope of his ideas and the UNIA's actions go beyond that characterization.

Marcus Garvey was born in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, to Marcus and Sarah Garvey. His father was a stonemason and the family did some subsistence farming. After leaving school at fourteen, he served as a printer's apprentice in his godfather's business. When he was sixteen he moved to Kingston where his political ...

Article

was born on 15 April 1894 at Brandon Hill in rural St. Andrew, Jamaica. He was the son of Charles Grant, a cultivator, and his wife, Louisa (née Jackson). After attending St. Phillips Church School in St. Andrew and West Branch Elementary School in Kingston, Grant became a dockworker on the Kingston Wharves. With the advent of World War I he stowed away on a British troop ship and subsequently joined the 11th Battalion of the British West Indies Regiment. He became known as St. William Grant, and the “St.” is most likely a reference to his service as a sergeant in the military.

Unable to find any gainful employment on his return home, Grant emigrated to New York in 1920 where he joined Marcus Garvey s Universal Negro Improvement Association UNIA Grant s military experience saw him rapidly promoted from street leader to commander and president of the ...

Article

Amar Wahab

Political activist, journalist, black nationalist, community leader, and feminist. Born in 1915 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Jones moved to New York with her parents and three sisters at the age of 8. Her formal education was ended prematurely by tuberculosis, which damaged her lungs and permanently affected her health. She became actively involved with the Young Communist League of the American Communist Party, and was a vociferous advocate of human and civil rights. She was the editor of Negro Affairs for the Party's paper the Daily Worker, and in 1948 was elected to the Party's National Committee.

After being arrested four times for her involvement in campaigns for a socialist revolution, Jones was deported from the United States and given asylum in England. In exile she worked closely with London's African‐Caribbean community and founded and edited the West Indian Gazette which was vital to her fight for ...

Article

Steven Gish

, South African lawyer and African nationalist, was born in Eston, Natal, South Africa, on 21 January 1914. He was the first of seven children of Mbazwana Martin Lembede, a farmer, and Martha Nora MaLuthuli Lembede, a teacher. Because the family was poor, Lembede’s father worked on white and Indian-owned farms to supplement the family’s meager income. Anton was baptized in the Anglican Church but converted to Catholicism as a youth. He was tutored at home by his mother before attending Catholic missionary school. A gifted student, Lembede received a scholarship to attend Adams College in Natal, one of the most prestigious missionary schools in southern Africa. He qualified as a teacher in 1936.

In the late 1930s, Lembede taught in Natal and the Orange Free State while continuing his own education. He passed “matric” in 1937 earning the equivalent of a high school diploma and then ...

Article

Born near Durban, in eastern South Africa, Anton Muziwakhe Lembede was the son of Zulu farm workers who struggled to earn enough money to send him to primary school. After two years he had to leave and go to work as a kitchen boy for an Indian family; however, he saved money to put himself back in school. In 1933 Lembede won a scholarship to Adams Teacher Training College, the Congregational Church institution, whose teachers included future African National Congress (ANC) leaders Albert Luthuli and Z. K. Matthews. Lembede had a passion for learning, and while teaching he mastered the Afrikaans and Sesotho languages. He was also schooled through correspondence courses, studying Latin, philosophy, and Roman-Dutch law. In 1943 he moved to Johannesburg where he was an apprentice of Pixley Ka Izaka Seme a black lawyer who was one of the founders of the African Native National Congress which ...

Article

Tony Martin

Marcus Garvey (b. 17 August 1887, St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica; d. 10 June 1940, London) built the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA), the largest and most successful Pan-African mass movement of all time.

Garvey was born to an artisan father (stonemason) and peasant mother. He was born forty-nine years after the end of slavery in British Jamaica. Slavery in nearby Cuba ended in 1886, the year before he was born. Therefore, slavery and the collective remembrance of Africa weighed heavily on the consciousness of Garvey’s Jamaican generation.

In the context of African Jamaica where illiteracy was still widespread secondary education was mostly denied to African youth and tertiary education was nonexistent Garvey s education was certainly adequate He had an excellent grounding in the basics at elementary school and afterward became a printer s apprentice He moved at the age of sixteen to ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Adopted name of Michael de Freitas (1933–1975), black revolutionary and civil rights activist in London. Michael X was born in Trinidad to a Portuguese father and Barbadian mother. He immigrated to London in 1957 and lived in the Notting Hill area. Before converting to Islam, Michael X, who was also known by the name of Michael Abdul Malik, was a pimp and a hustler, similar to his idol Malcolm X. He founded the Racial Adjustment Action Society and in 1967 became the first person to be imprisoned under England's Race Relations Act. Michael X's impulsive nature resulted in several convictions, among them an eighteen‐month jail sentence for advocating the shooting of black women who were seen in the company of white men. He argued for the congregation of Blacks in social communes. In 1969 he was given money to start a commune in Islington but ...

Article

Christopher Fyfe

Student, born the son of Bureh, regent (Nengbana) of the Koya Temne of Sierre Leone, who in 1791 granted land for a settlement to an agent of the London‐based Sierra Leone Company (who mistakenly called him King Naimbana). Aged about 24, he went to England for education at the Company's expense. The directors welcomed ‘the Black Prince’ enthusiastically, particularly Henry Thornton, the chairman, and Granville Sharp, the originator of the settlement project, from whom he took new names and became Henry Granville Naimbana. They saw in him a means of fulfilling their mission to introduce ‘the Blessings of Civilization and Industry’ into Africa.

Described as easy manly and confident in deportment pettish and implacable in disposition and with a great thirst for knowledge he proved an excellent student A surviving letter he wrote is lucidly expressed and well written Thornton recorded anecdotes of his reactions to life ...